CBS Rejects Super Bowl Ad for Medical Cannabis

Jan. 29, 2019
30-second spot from Acreage Holdings would have been a first; some see hypocrisy in beer and alcohol ads.

During Sunday's Super Bowl you'll see Steve Carell hawking Pepsi and the usual alcohol ads, but you won't see a proposed 30-second spot touting the benefits of medical marijuana.

CBS rejected the ad from Acreage Holdings, a grower and distributor of marijuana, because it was “not consistent with the network’s advertising policies.” See it here.

Acreage, which recently added former House Speaker John Boehner to its board of directors (he's also reportedly an investor), was willing to pay the $5 million cost to place the ad.

The ad begins with a disabled boy having seizures -- "one [prescription drug] nearly killed our son," says his mother. Then a man who had been hooked on opioids for 15 years after back surgery. Then an apparent Middle Eastern war veteran and amputee "who couldn't live with the pain or the treatment."

All found relief with medical marijuana or cannabis-derived products.

Nowhere does the spot promote Acreage's own products. The ad actually is a call to action, its final frame asking viewers to lobby their Congresspeople for legislative change.

“We’re disappointed by the news but somewhat unsurprised,” Acreage President George Allen told CNN Business. “Still, we developed the ad in the spirit of a public service announcement. We feel it’s our responsibility to advocate on behalf of our patients.”

Although two-thirds of our states have legalized medicinal use of marijuana, it remains illegal federally and is banned by the NFL.

Athletes from several leagues, including the NFL, have increasingly advocated for the approval of medical marijuana to alleviate the aches and pains of playing contact sports, said CNN Business. Some have called the NFL and CBS hypocrites for accepting ads from and even partnering with beer and alcohol brands.

“Keep pumping the booze ads, guys,” Eagles defensive lineman Chris Long sarcastically tweeted Tuesday, as quoted by CNN Business.

For some of the other food & beverage related Super Bowl ads, click here.

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